Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Roger Marshall of Kansas are leading a group of GOP colleagues that includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in an effort to put the Senate on record opposing President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for health care workers.
“Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandates punish essential workers who put their lives on the line to serve their communities,” Blackburn said in a statement issued Dec. 30. “Tennessee’s healthcare workers should not be fired from showing up to work and providing lifesaving care. This resolution will stop the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from firing the nurses, doctors, and medical professionals that care for the elderly, poor, and most vulnerable.”
The legislative vehicle for the move is the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that provides a process under which a resolution of disapproval of a newly issued executive branch regulation must be approved by majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The president can then sign the resolution, which kills the regulation, or veto it, which allows the regulation to take effect unless Congress overrides the veto.
The CRA was approved by Republican congressional majorities in 1996 and was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. The process has been successfully used to stop controversial regulations 20 times since its passage, including three times in the present Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Blackburn said the anti-health care worker vaccine mandate resolution has 32 Senate co-sponsors, which means that it’s a privileged vehicle that must be brought to the Senate floor for a vote within a few weeks.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and other Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pushing the resolution in the lower chamber. The House version of the resolution has 162 co-sponsors, also all Republicans, and also is a privileged vehicle that must be brought to the floor for an up-or-down vote.
“The Biden Administration’s CMS vaccine mandate is a slap in the face to the hard-working men and women who never took a day off in the frontline fight of the COVID-19 battle. These heroes of the pandemic are being fired for choosing not to take the COVID vaccine, despite many of them having immunity through natural infection,” Marshall said in the statement.
“As a physician, I’m confident the vaccine has saved lives; however, whether to receive it is a personal choice between individuals and their doctor–not mandated via executive actions. With this CRA, we are continuing to do everything in our power to fight for those who ran to the sound of the battle–for these are the true heroes of the pandemic and deserve our best fight and utmost respect.”
McConnell said in the statement: “I have consistently urged everyone to receive their safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. I am pro-vaccination. But the federal government should not have the power to dictate individual medical decisions or place additional burdens on our healthcare system by placing mandates on these heroes.”
Biden has issued vaccine mandates covering health care workers, federal civil service employees, employees of federal contractors, and all private companies with 100 or more employees.
All of the mandates are currently being challenged in federal court and three of the cases were recently consolidated and accepted for review by the Supreme Court. The high court will hear oral arguments on the issue on Jan. 7 and has previously blocked challenges to three state-level vaccine mandates.
In the meantime, federal mandates in 25 states covered by three lower federal courts are suspended, pending the Supreme Court decision, but are still in effect in 25 other states under the jurisdiction of other lower federal district and appeals courts.
Duncan said in September when he first announced the House effort against the Biden mandates that he feared the regulation would complicate an already difficult staffing situation for hospitals and other health care providers.
“I’m concerned that if the Biden Administration moves forward with this rule, the resulting staff shortages could actually cost lives instead of saving them. The American people need to know whether the Biden Administration has even considered the potential ramifications for their action of imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, and how they plan to respond,” Duncan said.
A White House spokesman didn’t respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment by press time.